Many of us feel frazzled at times, particularly this time of year when the financial and emotional stress associated with the holidays piles onto our already hectic lifestyles.
However, millions of Americans who may think they are merely stressed-out are actually suffering from a much worse condition: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates as many as 2.5 million people have this condition, but a whopping 90% of them are undiagnosed.
People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as the name suggests, are overwhelmingly tired and do not improve even with rest. It can get so bad, that an estimated one in four sufferers is confined to the bed or house for long periods of time, even though they may look fine.
People with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:
- are not able to function the same way they did before they became ill.
- may not be able to do daily tasks, like taking a shower or preparing a meal.
- have difficulty keeping a job, going to school, and taking part in family and social life.
- can suffer with it for years and sometimes leads to serious disability.
The CDC recently reversed course on its preferred treatment of CFS. Previously, they recommended patients exercise and participate in psychotherapy, as it was considered primarily a psychological condition. Both of those recommendations have been removed from the CDC treatment protocol. One of them, exercise, now even being deemed potentially harmful.
"CFS may get worse after any activity, whether it's physical or mental. This symptom is known as post-exertional malaise (PEM)," the CDC reports.
Instead of exercise and psychotherapy, the CDC now recommends treating certain individual symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, such as sleep, pain, depression, dizziness and memory problems, in the following ways:
- Start a regular bedtime routine with a long, calming wind-down period.
- Go to bed at same time each night and wake up at same time each morning.
- Limit daytime naps to 30 minutes in total during the day.
- Remove all electronics from bedroom
- Control noise, light, and temperature
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals before bedtime
- Avoid exercise right before going to bed
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- See a pain specialist.
- Counseling to learn new ways to deal with pain.
- Toning and stretching exercises
- Water therapy for healing
- Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications
- Deep breathing
- See a cardiologist or neurologist
- Increase daily fluid and salt intake
- Use support stockings
- Memory aids, like organizers and calendars
- stimulant medications
The CDC also recommends:
- Avoiding 'push-and-crash' cycle (do too much, crash, rest, start to feel a little better, do too much once again) by finding ways to make activities easier, like sitting while doing the laundry or showering, taking frequent breaks, and dividing large tasks into smaller steps.
- Balanced diet
- Nutritional supplements: Doctors might run tests to see if patients lack any important nutrients